Ancient history

20th April 2007 at 01:00
I am saddened by the OCR exam board's decision to axe the A-level in ancient history (TES, March 30) and subsume it under classical civilisation. It is hard to see this as anything more than cost-cutting.

At our sixth-form college in north Hampshire, we began preparing students for the ancient history A-level in 2003. From an initial cohort of 30 at AS-level in the first year, we have grown to an entry of about 130 at AS and 90 at A2. It is the most popular choice for students in a department that also offers both modern and early modern history.

We are not untypical as a history department, operating for the 16-19 age group in the state sector. There is a huge demand to study this kind of history. For many students outside the private sector, this is the first chance to pursue their enthusiasm since Year 4 or 5.

Many have enjoyed 20th-century topics at GCSE and relish the chance to do something different at A-level. We market this as a discrete history syllabus: if it is to be subsumed under a more general title, its appeal will be severely undermined.

If OCR did more market research and promotion, it might realise that it has a winner here and would not reach so readily for the accountant's axe.

Thomas Pearson Head of history and politics, Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke, Hants

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